Perhaps the Bobby Petrino to Kentucky movement will begin picking up steam after words from Kentucky basketball legend Joe B. Hall backed the former Louisville and Arkansas head coach.
Joker Phillips is merely a placeholder for next head man at Kentucky. Names are flying in from all over, from Kirby Smart at Alabama, to Sonny Dykes at Louisiana Tech, to Neil Brown at Texas Tech, to Dirk Koetter of the Atlanta Falcons, all of whom would be a solid addition to the program.
But Bobby Petrino is a name that has Big Blue Nation divided.
It seems many are strongly in favor of the offensive mind to inject some life into a roster full of potential. He would likely ignite passion among even the most cynical Kentucky football fans, and bring an immediate sense of winning to the program.
But others are hedging their bets that Petrino would already be thinking about his next job — as he has demonstrated numerous times in the past. Not to mention the character flaws he has showcased over the course of his career, most notably the drama that unfolded in Arkansas that ultimately lead to his termination.
Joe B. Hall is willing to give Petrino the benefit of the doubt. Hall’s son-in-law Mike Summers coached under Petrino at Louisville, Atlanta and Arkansas before coming to Kentucky to be the offensive line coach in 2010. Hall says he has heard another side to all of those negative stories about Petrino.
On Petrino’s secret meetings with Auburn while still head coach at Louisville:
“I know there is a lot of misinformation about Petrino and looking for other jobs when he was at Louisville, especially the situation at Auburn,” said Hall. “People were wanting to talk to him. He was not out chasing jobs and would not have left Louisville if he had not been approached about jobs. He was very loyal to Louisville. The AD and president at Auburn pressure him to meet with them. They flew up to southern Indiana to talk to him. He told them it was a waste of time but he had been at Auburn as offensive coordinator and respected those people. All he did was talk. Nothing else.”
On leaving the Falcons job in his first season with three games remaining to take the job at Arkansas:
“The situation was not him leaving team with three games to go. He went into management to bench a couple of starters that were causing problems and they told him he couldn’t do it,” Hall said. “He said was to have complete control but they said he couldn’t bench players they were paying big money. He told them then he would be not be back the next year and they said he was finished now. He was going to finish the year. He was not going to walk out. But they changed the locks on the door so he could not get back to the locker room. There was a lot more to that story.”
On the comparisons between Petrino being a similar hire to Billy Gillispie:
“After Gillipsie, it was so important to get UK back on the winning side that [UKâ€ˆofficials] overlooked what they were afraid of the first time with hiring Calipari. They brought him in and it has not been a bad situation at all,”â€ˆHall said. “Calipari was different in that he was still a winner and had not done anything morally wrong. A lot of his problems with his perception but the NCAA had never come down on him personally in any way.”
There weren’t any specific comments directly relating to the motorcycle accident and affair at Arkansas.
Petrino is a winner. But is the baggage worth it?